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The Kennedys

Sen. Ted Kennedy dies at age 77

By Laurie Bennett

August 26, 2009 at 7:20am

After a long battle with brain cancer, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died Tuesday at age 77.

Democrats and Republicans remembered him today as one of the most effective senators in the country’s history. He was the patriarch of the renowned Kennedy family, dying just two weeks after his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

The family issued a statement Wednesday morning, saying:

Edward M. Kennedy
Edward M. Kennedy

Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”

President Obama also issued a statement, saying “An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.”

Ted Kennedy was the last living Kennedy brother - part of a dynasty that included former President John F. Kennedy and former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. He served in the Senate for 46 years.

His life was marked by triumph and tragedy, including the assassinations of the president and Bobby Kennedy, Chappaquiddick in 1969, and the death of his nephew John Kennedy Jr. in a 1999 plane crash.

Before his marriage to his second wife, Victoria Reggie, he was known for carousing. In his later years, however, he became a revered statesman. Kennedy was widely regarded as a principled dealmaker - a seeming oxymoron in today’s political sphere.

To many, he was the torchbearer of Northeastern liberalism. Republicans spoke affectionately today of invoking his name repeatedly in their campaigns to draw conservative support.

A longtime advocate of health care reform, Kennedy is likely to continue to wield influence in the capital in the months to come, as legislators debate Obama’s plan. Kennedy had called universal health coverage “the cause of my life.”

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